Don’t be put off by the poor translation of the title of the Oscar Wilde classic “The Importance of Being Earnest” (I would have used the word “sincère” rather than “sérieux” personally), this new translation by Jean-Marie Besset with direction from Gilbert Désveaux is excellent. There are so many great lines in here – and very well-translated I’d add – that there was ne’er a dull moment during the 90 or so minutes of the show. The acting was excellent as well. I especially appreciated Arnaud Denis’ Algermon Moncrieff because of his subtle hints at the character’s ambiguous sexuality without ever being overt about it. His playfulness with Lane (played by Mathieu Brion who also plays Merriman to a “T”) was hilarious. The cast featured brother and sister (?) Mathieu Bisson as John Worthing and Mathilde Bisson as Cecily Cardew, both of who were great (and I was relieved that they were not one of the romantically-involved couples!). The Cecily character was played with lovely abandon and grace, whereas John Worthing was hapless but sincere. Miss Prism was played by Margaret Zenou and was OK, while Rev. Canon Chasuble and Lady Bracknell were played by Claude Aufaure – the Lady Bracknell character was brilliant. Rounding out the cast was the lovely Marilyne Fontaine as Gwendolen Fairfax which she pulls off with ease and beauty. The decors were original – I loved the divan in Moncrieff’s pad and the setting sun in the country house of Worthing. The story is, of course, extraordinary with so many twists and turns and surprises, but also sad when we think of the potential of what Oscar Wilde could have written after this had it not led directly to his public exposure and imprisonment. If you get a chance before it closes, “L’importance d’être sérieux” merits your time at the Théêtre Montparnasse and will leave you entertained and smiling and convinced on the importance of being Earnest.
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